It is not often that I see culturally responsive materials promoted on social media that have Canadian sources. When I do find something, my immediate thought wanders to – is the content relevant and authentic? So, when I came across an offer to download a special edition issue of Kayak Magazine focused on Black History in Canada, I was quick to follow this opportunity. I had trust in the content since I recognized the name of the guest editor – Natasha Henry – a leader “specializing in the development of learning materials that focus on the African Diasporic experience”. I knew this issue would be worth checking out and sharing with my teaching colleagues.
The fact that this special issue is being offered as an equitable resource – it’s free to download – makes it accessible to all educators. That, in itself, is a good thing. But when I opened up my download, I had to do a double-take. Yes – I actually had to go reach for my glasses and zoom into the image.
The first thing I noticed was the image of a boy wearing a dastaar on the cover. Now, you may not realize the power of that image for our family, but for someone who advocates for culturally responsive education, that was enormous. A magazine cover highlighting Black History – a subject we do not study enough in depth at the elementary level in Canada – AND a boy with a Sikh dastaar? My son would describe this as EPIC!
When I did share the issue with my son later that day, he asked “Is that me?” I asked him what he thought and his smile said it all. Representation matters.
The last time he’d seen a mirror like that was when we’d read Zetta Elliott’s book A Hand to Hold. These moments are powerful and identify the need for greater diversity in children’s books and media in Canada. Sikhs make up a population of over 500,000 in Canada today, and yet our stories remain entangled in a web of ignorance and mostly stereotypes. This issue of Kayak Magazine gives me hope. The people working behind the scenes of this issue, especially the illustrator in this case, really thought about the content of this issue. Please support this issue so that as consumers we can send a strong message about the need for more culturally responsive content here in Canada.